What is one sure way to tell that you have a lasting legacy? The fact that they make a new documentary about you decades after your fall from grace. That is certainly the case with game maker Atari, whose history, failure, and legacy will be put under a microscope once more in a documentary video appropriately titled “Atari: Game Over”.
Perhaps there is no other game company that sparks as much debate and flashbacks as Atari. It is credited to have sparked and fueled the beginnings of the video game industry in the 70’s. But it has also been blamed for the industry crash that followed but a decade later. All supposedly thanks to a green alien.
Atari has recently once again enjoyed the limelight when documentary’s crew decided to unearth one of the biggest tombs in video game history of all times: the E.T. landfill in Alamogoro, New Mexico. This is where Atari decided to bury its shame when its game based on the hit Spielberg film of the same name not only failed to make a profit, but also garnered the nothing but scathing reviews, returns, and plummeting sales.
They say history is written by the victors, which Atari wasn’t back then, and history is hardly the simplistic linear prose we might have been led to believe. In unearthing E.T., the documentary will be unearthing the events, circumstances, and people that led to this point in video game history. It could also unearth resentment and old wounds, but isn’t that necessary for healing, as they say?
In any case, what’s done is done and the Atari: Game Over will be arriving on Xbox this Fall. It will definitely be an interesting footnote to gamers who lived to see those days, a fulfilling supplement to those who study video gaming history, and an invaluable real-life example to the key players in today’s burgeoning mobile game industry.